Evening Meditations for the Septuagesima Monday after Epiphany ~ Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Evening Meditation




Let us reflect on the necessity of prayer. St. Chrysostom says that as the body without the soul is dead, so the soul without prayer is dead. He also teaches that as water is necessary for plants, so is prayer necessary to save us from perdition. God wills that all men should be saved (1 Tim. ii. 4) — and wills not that any one be lost. The Lord… dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any one should perish, but that all should return to penance (2 Pet. iii. 9). But He also wishes that we ask Him for the graces necessary for salvation. For on the one hand, it is impossible for us to observe the Divine commands and save our souls without the actual assistance of God; and on the other, God will not, ordinarily speaking, give us His graces unless we ask them from Him. Hence the Holy Council of Trent has declared that God has not commanded impossibilities; because He either gives us the proximate and actual grace to fulfil His precepts, or He gives us the grace to ask Him for this actual assistance. St. Augustine teaches that God gives without prayer the first graces, such as vocation to the Faith and to repentance; but all other graces, and particularly the gift of perseverance, He gives only to those who ask them. Hence theologians teach, that for adults prayer is necessary as a means of salvation; so that, without prayers, it is impossible to be saved.

Ah, my Redeemer, how have I been able hitherto to live in such forgetfulness of Thee! Thou wert prepared to grant me all the graces I should ask of Thee; Thou didst only wait for me to ask them. But I have thought only of indulging my passions, and have been indifferent to the privation and loss of Thy love and Thy graces. Lord, forget my ingratitude, and have mercy on me. Pardon me all the displeasure I have given Thee, and grant me perseverance.


The Scriptures are clear. For we read: We ought always to pray (Luke xviii. 1). Pray, lest ye enter into temptation (Luke xxii. 40). Ask and you shall receive (Jo. xvi. 24). Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. v. 17). The words we ought, pray, ask, according to St. Thomas and theologians generally, imply a strict precept which binds under grievous sin, particularly in three cases. First, when a person is in a state of sin; secondly, when he is in danger of death; and thirdly, when he is in great danger of falling into sin. Theologians teach that, ordinarily, he who neglects prayer for a month, or at most for two months, is guilty of a mortal sin. The reason is, because prayer is a means without which we cannot obtain the helps necessary for salvation.

Ask and you shall receive. He who asks receives: then, says St. Teresa, he who does not ask does not receive. And before, St. James said the same. You have not, because you ask not (James iv. 2). Prayer is particularly necessary to obtain the virtue of continence. And, said the Wise Man, as I knew that I could not otherwise be continent except God gave it… I went to the Lord and besought him (Wis. viii. 21). Let us conclude that he who prays is certainly saved; he who does not pray is certainly lost. All the elect are saved by prayer; all the damned are lost by neglect of prayer. And their greatest despair is, and shall be for ever, caused by the conviction, that they had it in their power to save their souls so easily by prayer, and that now the time of salvation is no more.

O God of my soul, give me the grace always to ask Thy aid not to offend Thee. Do not permit me to be, as I have hitherto been, negligent in the performance of this duty. Grant me light and strength always to recommend myself to Thee, and particularly when my enemies tempt me to offend Thee again. Grant, O my God, this grace through the merits of Jesus Christ, and through the love which Thou bearest to Him. O Lord, I have offended Thee enough. I wish to love Thee during the remainder of my life. Give me Thy love; and may this love remind me to ask Thy aid whenever I am in danger of losing Thee by sin. Mary, my hope after Jesus, through thy intercession I hope for the grace to recommend myself in all my temptations to thee and to thy Son. Hear me, O my Queen, through the love which thou bearest to Jesus Christ.

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